70130 Travel Guide
The Jinx--it's all anyone (on social media) could talk about last night. The HBO documentary series had a shocking ending that coincided with its subject, Robert Durst's arrest the day before in New Orleans.
Durst is a wealthy and eccentric but very disturbed heir to one of New York's richest real estate families who agreed to be interviewed about his life and the headline-making incidents that have gained him much notoriety.
We'd like not to spoil the series for you but it will be pretty hard, so if you're keen on watching this show, look away now. Go ahead. Be gone. Alrighty, you've been warned.
New Orleans Hotels / New Hotels / Hotel Openings / Provenance Hotels / Hotel Opening Rates / → All Tags
An artsy, cool new hotel is opening in New Orleans soon – the 167-room Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery will debut in April about four blocks from the French Quarter in the Warehouse Arts District, a very up and coming name (and home to the popular Cochon Butcher sandwich shop.)
Old No. 77 will be the latest offering from Provenance Hotels and is described by the company thusly:
The hotel is the latest incarnation of a building that began its life in 1854 as a warehouse serving the Port of New Orleans and has served the city as the Ambassador Hotel for the last two decades. With Provenance Hotels at the helm, it is undergoing a renovation and rebranding that highlights rustic original details – like hard wood floors and exposed brick walls – and pairs sophisticated modern design with the culture, art and joie de vive that is uniquely New Orleans.
And the rooms are joie de vive indeed!
Hotel Rebrandings / Hotel Openings / Hotel Renovations / Le Meridien Hotels / New Orleans Hotels / → All Tags
The Le Méridien New Orleans on Poydras Street opened a few weeks ago after a $29 million renovation project that completely redesigned the guest rooms and suites, created three new restaurants and lounges and added 1,600-sq.ft. of meeting and event space.
The room photos on the hotel's website, look very understated, almost a bit bland, but the rest of the property looks gorgeous. We especially love the crazy wallpaper in the guest room corridors and the sophisticated Le Méridien Hub, the hotel brand's signature gathering spot where guests can sip on "carefully brewed cups of illy coffee by a Master Barista, engage over Le Méridien Sparkling cocktails and indulge in succulent éclairs."
The hotel has also unveiled its new LMNO restaurant, not to be confused with LMAO. Executive Chef Mauricio Gutierrez has created a menu of New American fare with an emphasis on local cuisine. Another restaurant, focusing on breakfast, should debut in the spring.
We already gave you a brief look at the rooms inside the first ever AC Hotel by Marriott in the U.S. and we had you salivating over the croissants flown in from France (well, the frozen dough was), but now it's time to take you all around the AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans.
We like to let the pictures do most of the talking but here's what you need to know:
The History: The AC was built out of two historic buildings--The Cotton Exchange and The Security Homestead Association--although the buildings have been used as hotel for quite some time. The hotel, which is one block from Canal and two from Bourbon Street, suffered some severe damage after Hurricane Katrina, but it was kept mostly to the first two floors.
The layout of the lobby has changed a bit structurally, and of course, everything inside is brand-new but the hotel retains a historic set-up especially on the guest room floors which have smaller hallways and many twists and turns.
This hotel may have missed the mark with its insane asylum themed floor but the The W New Orleans is making the most of its location in the French quarter this Halloween with a "Feel the Spirits" package that is just the right amount of spooky.
The package includes a two-night stay in a Tarot-inspired guest room along with two tickets to the creepy Walking Cemetery Tour by Gray Line Tours and two Corpse Reviver cocktails from the hotel bar, SoBou. The Corpse Reviver is made with equal parts gin, Lillet, lemon and Cointreau and served in a glass misted with Absinthe, designed "to bring you back to life." You'll also be close to the city's Krewe of Boo Halloween parade on the 30th.
Rates for the package start at $391 a night on October 30 and 31st for a wonderful room and $401 for the Mega room with the tarot them. This room is actually available year-round so if you can't make to Nola for the Halloween festivities, you can go another time and have the same creepy experience.
[Photo: W New Orleans French Quarter]
It's been a while since we last checked in on the U.S. development plans for AC Hotels by Marriott but boy, are we glad we did. That's because we've discovered that the first AC Hotel for the U.S. won't be opening in Miami Beach.
Instead, Antonio Catalan's design forward boutique hotel concept will open inside the former Cotton Exchange Building in New Orleans in October. Miami Beach will follow in late 2014/early 2015 as will Kansas City.
So now, let's take a closer look at what to expect for the AC in NOLA. Looking at the hotel's website, there isn't much to go on from a visual standpoint. We've got a shot of the exterior of the building--a National Historic Landmark built in 1871, as well as a photo of the lobby, the AC Kitchen restaurant, the bar and the suave AC Lounge area, where all the action should be happening.
We're loving the glass bar that extends from the wall to the ceiling but we're also anxious to see a guest room too. Unfortunately, there aren't any shots of those but we do know that free WiFi will be found throughout the property.
Recently, we've had hotel share their secrets for keeping royal families happy as well as their 10 commandments for keeping luxury hotel guests happy. Today, we've got a new set of tips from a hotel--The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. But their list deals with a different kind of VIP--the film industry. And yes, that includes celebrities.
The Windsor Court has hosted pretty much every major film and music star from Brad and Angie to Beyonce (who stayed there for her Super Bowl performance last year) to Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, annual attendees of the Jazz Fest. And they typically stay in the hotel's best suite--The Presidential Suite on the 22nd floor.
With 2,700-sq.ft. of space, the suite has two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a full kitchen and dining room, two living rooms, a butler's pantry, a full entertainment center, original artwork, two private landscaped terraces and a baby grand piano that's been tinkered on by Billy Joel. Penthouse guests get to enjoy the perks of the hotel's Club Lounge which has dedicated concierge service and daily food offerings. Rates typically start at $4,500 a night which, let's be real, is chump change for these A-List folks .
But putting up celebs in the best digs is only part of the job. The rest is coordinating with the production companies, the assistants and the entourages.
Here, The Windsor Court Hotel's general manager, David Teich, dishes out his 10 Commandments for Hosting Film Stars:
1. First commandment to hosting celebrities, film industry and VIPs is that privacy is key. Treat all guests with respect – absolutely no photos, autographs, social media, etc.
2. Prior to arrival, it is important to have one key point of contact, i.e. a guest relations manager or customer experience manager, to ensure that all details/pre-needs are known.
3. Keep communication open with local production teams so the hotel knows of schedule changes as well as comings and goings of the guest.
Hotel Desserts / Hotel Restaurants / Sheraton Hotels / New Orleans Hotels / Louisiana Hotels / → All Tags
Last Friday seems the whole country went nuts over National Donut Day. Even we moseyed on by the Doughnut Plant at the Chelsea Hotel for our favorite tres leches variety (and get a free Classic Mini Cake doughnut with Carnival sprinkles!). Oh, and we may have taken advantage of the “buy a drink, get a donut free” deal at Dunkin’. Yeah, it was a good sugar-filled day.
However, if you live in New Orleans, you’re one lucky duck. See, every Friday from 9-11 a.m. for the rest of the month, the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel will celebrate the city’s original ode to the donut—the beignet—by serving them at their Roux Bistro restaurant for only $5 (regularly $7).
For those who've never tried one of these delectable pastries, know the treat, introduced in N’awlins in the 18th century, is a yeasty, deep-fried, square creation covered with tons of powdered sugar. Word to the wise? Don’t wear a black shirt while chowing down on these babies.
Hotel Renovations / W Hotels / Starwood Hotels / New Orleans Hotels / Hotel Bars / Hotel Restaurants / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
Last summer, we reported on on the W New Orleans - French Quarter's $9 million renovations, which are part of W's larger plan to update 11 of their North American properties, including outposts in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
As the brand continues to expand internationally (new W's are popping up in Bangkok, Milan, Singapore, and Verbier), the idea seems to be to get back to what made the brand so innovative and aspirational in the first place, playing on its strengths of incorporating local elements, like food and music, into the experience. (We've also heard they hope to reinvigorate their in-house spa concept, as well, which could definitely use it.)
So if going local is the goal, then the NOLA property ought to fit right in. Set in the French Quarter (there's also another W near the Warehouse District), the property's 97 rooms were redesigned by NYC-based Nemaworkshop to reflect two iconic aspects of the city: jazz and voodoo.
Read on to take a look at some of the rooms!
Hotel Openings / Hotel Rebrandings / New Orleans Hotels / Four Points by Sheraton / Free WiFi / → All Tags
Although we are a little tardy for the party, we had to let you all know that the Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter opened its doors in June on the very party-friendly Bourbon Street.
The space formerly called the Inn on Bourbon was previously owned by Ramada. Now rebranded as The Four Points, the hotel has 186 rooms, a swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness center, copy/fax center, and free WiFi. Of course, location means everything in New Orleans, and the hotel is in the middle of the action. It’s walking distance to several of the French Quarter’s hot spots, or should we say cool spots, like the House of Blues, the Saenger Theater, Armstrong Park and the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Harrah’s Casino is only a mile away.
W Hotels / Hotel Uniforms / Designer Hotel Uniforms / Jay Godfrey / New Orleans Hotels / Hotel Renovations / → All Tags
Ed. Note: We had to pull the images of the new uniforms per Starwood's request. When we get an approved photo we'll put it back up here!
It turns out that the hotel’s uniforms will also get a little updating from Jay Godfrey who has transformed the regular hotel uniforms into stylish, sleek outfits. Now, the staff will look pretty spiffy while work continues on the renovated guestrooms as well as the hotel’s new restaurant, and bar.
As you can see in the before and after photos, The staff at the W French Quarter will now wear European-style suits with a flattering slimmer shape. The guys will have skinny ties with complementing tie clips, and the ladies will wear pencil skirts with chic jackets. They can accessorize their uniforms with fashionable jewelry.
Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Bar in one of it early incarnations, circa 1970
We’ve never denied our love for revolving restaurants, even in the face of risky business. But our love for revolving restos really extends to all things revolutionary at hotels, including bars (is there a better way to see all the liquor?). And our latest fixation took us to New Orleans where the Hotel Monteleone’s historic Carousel Bar and Lounge is now fresh as ever.
Earlier this year, the 63-year old Carousel Bar completed a huge renovation that basically blew out the dark and drab, and replaced it with fresh colors and updates, including a new pewter bar under a more brightly lit carousel top. It still rotates at a snails pace, but what are you gonna do? When drinking is involved, that seems just about the right speed.